Monthly Archives: January 2015

Cauterets (skiing)

Since the birth of Andrea, there are some activities which are more difficult to undertake and plan, skiing being one of them. The last time we went skiing was in 2013.

The girls went this weekend to The Netherlands, so I took the opportunity to go skiing with the staff council skiing club. All my colleagues in the end dropped, so I would be going alone (meaning no known people among the half-loaded bus that took us to the resort).

The destination: Cauterets “Cirque du Lys”. It is a medium small resort in the Western part of the French Pyrenees. It has about 36 kilometres spread over 20 runs: 4 green, 7 blue and red, and two black.

Cauterets plan (2014-2015).

Cauterets plan (2014-2015).

I first had to remember the basics, and re-teach myself a little bit skiing. I went all the way up of the Grand Barbat and descended by the different blues: Aconit, Gentiane, Cretes… I didn’t enjoy much this last one, being a narrow corridor from top to the bottom, however the views from it were stunning:

North East View.

North East view.

South view.

South view.

Skiing version of self.

Skiing version of self.

Once I got confident again with the skiing, I was curious on measuring the speed. For that purpose I had brought my Garmin watch. See below the track I recorded (starting from Cretes and diverting to Dryade) and the speed profile, and here the complete record.





As you can see I was not descending that fast (maximum speeds just over 37km/h), but I went improving times with each descent, so at one point I decided not to measure any more and avoid taking risks at less than a month away from our next marathon.

At the end of the day I tried out a couple of the red runs: Malh Blanc and Ancolie, and it went well. Sometimes the border between blue and red is not so clear. Nevertheless, I did not want to take any risks and preferred enjoying more fluent descents so I kept myself to the blues.

Looking forward to the next opportunity!

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Capitalism is ingrained in human nature

A former boss I had used to say something like:

Capitalism is so ingrained in human nature, that even in the Soviet Union, not having studied or heard about it and its demand and supply laws, soviets knew how much could be charged for goods or services in the black market(1)

I remembered those words very well when we travelled last year to New York to run its marathon.

On Friday 31st, October, we arrived to New York by car, coming from a tour that had taken us to Dayton. Before going to the hotels and leaving the rental car, we wanted to go by the Marathon Expo to retrieve the running bibs. It was located at the Javits Center, by the 11th Avenue between the 34th and 39th streets, in Manhattan.


In the picture you can see a sign post saying Park (at the 34th). That is where we left the car while we went to the Marathon Expo.

Waiting to be attended at the car park, we were reading a panel with prices: 16$ the 1st hour, the following hours being cheaper. The driver in the car in front of us started a discussion with an employee of the car park which went more or less like this:

  • (employee) The first hour is 30$, two hours, 50$…
  • (customer) Excuse me? In the panel it says it’s 16$ the first hour!
  • Sir, the panel says those are the prices excluding event days, today is an event day.
  • How do you go from 16 to 30$!
  • Sir, 16$ plus x dollars for being event day, plus x for taxes… sir, you are driving a Porsche Cayenne, if you think 30$ is too expensive feel free to back up and park somewhere else…

Speechless, I produced 50$ in notes :-). (2)

(1) He referred to Capitalism as the economic system in which trade seeks for profit and how demand and supply laws work, don’t look any further in the comment.

(2) The driver of the Porsche Cayenne did so, too.

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XB-36 tires

Two years ago, in 2013, I visited the Pima Air and Space Museum near Tucson, Arizona. One of the airplanes that really catches your attention in it is the bomber Convair B-36 Peacemaker, with its 10 engines: six turnin’ and four burnin’ (I wrote a post about it here).

Ten engines: "six turnin' and four burnin' ".

Ten engines: “six turnin’ and four burnin’ “.

When I wrote that post, I received the following comment from a reader, Ian C.

If you are ever back on this side of the pond, the National Museum of the Air Force has an XB-36 tire. It is just ridiculously large.

Last year, in 2014, we travelled again to the USA and this time we visited the National Museum of the Air Force (1) in Dayton, Ohio.

Let me close the loop by showing you this famous tire accompanied by some facts about it.

XB-36 tire

From the Wikipedia:

The XB-36 featured a single-wheel main landing gear whose tires were the largest ever manufactured up to that time, 9 feet 2 inches (2.79 m) tall, 3 feet (91 cm) wide, and weighing 1,320 pounds (600 kg), with enough rubber for 60 automobile tires. These tires placed so much pressure on runways, the XB-36 was restricted to the Fort Worth airfield adjacent to the plant of manufacture, and to a mere two USAF bases beyond that. At the suggestion of General Henry H. Arnold, the single-wheel gear was soon replaced by a four-wheel bogie. At one point, a tank-like tracked landing gear was also tried on the XB-36, but proved heavy and noisy and was quickly abandoned. (2)

(1) See here the post my brother Jaime wrote about our visit to it.

(2) This is not the post to do so, but it triggers the need to write one day about the California Bearing Ratio, doesn’t it?


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Dayton Aviation Heritage

It is well-known that the first ever flight (1) was made by Orville Wright on December 17, 1903, over 120 feet during 12 seconds at a field in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. It is less known that Orville was born in Dayton, Ohio (August 19, 1871), and that it was in Dayton where the Wright brothers had their different businesses, where they studied the physics of flight, made several tests, and prepared for the few weeks a year they would spend in the windier Kitty Hawk.

That makes Dayton deserve an Aviation Heritage National Historical Park and a visit from truly yours (and family), in a regular pilgrimage to aviation sites.

The Historical Park is composed by different buildings and sites at different locations in and around Dayton, among them:

  • The Wright Cycle Company and visitor center. The company is located at the original place, however the interior has been renovated and now shows replicas of what could be expected to be found in such a shop. The visitor centre is a museum dedicated to the Wright brothers (their family, their careers, other businesses they had) and the principles of flight and to the understanding of the Dayton at the time (a rather ingenious place measured by the different patents and business the flourished there those days). In the centre you may watch as well a 37′ documentary about the Wright Brothers (2).

  • The Wright Brothers Aviation Center, at the Carillon Historical Park, hosts an original 1905 Wright Flyer III that Orville himself helped to restore.
  • The Huffman Prairie Flying Field and interpretive center. These are located in an open-to-the-public area of the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base (3). The interpretive center houses some displays and the same documentary that at the visitor center. In front of it there is the Wright Memorial, in Wright Brothers Hill. A few kilometres from it there is the Huffman Prairie. There the brothers made hundreds of tests. They began using it in 1904 to make their initial airplane a practical invention. It is there where they trained the first pilots (the first ever flying training school). There you will see both a replica of the hangar they used at the time and of the catapult they used for the take-offs.

Before visiting the prairie go by the interpretive center to make sure it is open. You may also get a ranger to give you some tour. The same goes for the Cycle company, which you will need to ask a ranger at the visitor center to open it for you. All these places can be visited for free, though you will be more than delighted to contribute to their preservation.

I leave here some of the pictures we took.

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(1) In a heavier than air powered and controlled airplane.

(2) The documentary, Wright Brothers: On Great White Wings, is narrated by Martin Sheen and produced by Finley Holiday Films, which produces documentaries for several national heritage parks. It can be found here (20$).

(3) This Air Force Base hosts the National Museum of the US Air Force, pay a visit to the great account of our visit in my brother’s blog.

Note: Bear no doubt that some pilgrimage will bring me some day to Kitty Hawk…


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My forecast of Boeing Commercial Airplanes 2014 revenues

In the previous years I have been estimating the discounts Boeing applies to its list prices of commercial aircraft. You can see here the result of last year estimate (based on 2013 figures). The results I arrived at are that Boeing has been increasing its discounts in the recent years, and that in 2013 they topped ~47%.

Boeing Average Discount Evolution, 2013.

Boeing Average Discount Evolution, 2013.

With this post I wanted to take a step ahead and put the model to the test by using it for forecasting what will be Boeing Commercial Airplanes revenues for the year 2014.

As of today, January 15th, these have not been announced yet. In Boeing’s investor relations website you can see that the 2014 earnings conference call will take place on January 28th.

How will I reach to my forecast?

  1. See here Boeing (net) orders for the year 2014: 1,432 aircraft among all models.
  2. See here Boeing deliveries in the year 2014: 723 aircraft among all models.
  3. See here Boeing 2014 list prices.
  4. See in the above curve the average discount I will use: 47% (unchanged from past year, this is a hypothesis that will be put to test with how accurate the forecast turns out).
  5. See here [PDF, 841KB] Q3 2014 earnings press release. I use it to see how were faring in 2014 Boeing Commercial Airplanes services, deducing it from the reported Sales of Services, Boeing Capital and Global Services & Support. Up to end September 2014, the services figures were declining in comparison to 2013 figures. I will assume the global figure to follow the same proportional decline; arriving at ~589m$ for Boeing Commercial Airplanes services (remember, this figure will not be actually explicitly reported).

With all these ingredients… my forecast is: 60.2bn$ (1).

In the 2014 Q3 report you can see Boeing’s own guidance for year-end figures:

Boeing's 2014 Financial Outlook at Q3 2014 earnings press release.

Boeing’s 2014 Financial Outlook at Q3 2014 earnings press release.

Some comments:

First, you can see that my forecast (60.2bn$) is a bit more optimistic than Boeing’s own outlook 3 months ago, 57.5-59.5bn$ (2).

Second, in the 2014 Q3 release, you can see the revenues up to end September (below). In them, you can see that up to then, revenues of Boeing Commercial Airplanes had increased 13% in relation to 2013 (12.66% to be more precise). My forecast is a bit more optimistic here as well: at year end the increase in revenues will be +13.6%.

Boeing Commercial Airplanes revenues Q3 2014.

Boeing Commercial Airplanes revenues Q3 2014.

Final comment: if Boeing managed in 2014 to command better prices on delivered aircraft, the figure will be even higher. If the figure is lower than the 60.2, and in line with their forecast, it’ll mean that the market is forcing Boeing to apply ever higher discounts to their published list prices.

I am now looking forward to January 28th and Boeing’s earnings call!


Update on February 11th:

As announced, Boeing published on January 28th its full 2014 results [PDF, 838KB]. Which were the Boeing Commercial Airplanes revenues?

Boeing Commercial Airplanes revenues full 2014.

Boeing Commercial Airplanes revenues full 2014.

That is 59.99bn$, or 206m$ short of my detailed forecast of 60.196bn$. This means that I missed with my forecast by a 0.3%, not bad. Even better taking into account that the main discrepancy have been the lower level of services under the commercial airplanes unit.

The result, as my intuition went was above the upper limit of the bracket Boeing gave as guidance for the full year in the 2014 Q3 report, 57.5-59.5bn$ (see note (2)).

(1) To be more precise the forecast from the model is 60,196m$.

(2) If my forecast turns out correct some may be tempted to say that this is the usual trick played by CFOs: to present better figures than expected.


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San Silvestre 2014

Otro año más acabándolo corriendo la San Silvestre Vallecana popular de Madrid. Y con esta van 14 desde 1998 (*).

Este año ha sido especial en tanto que:

  • Ha sido la vez que más gente nos hemos juntado en el grupo al empezar: 14 (en el orden de la foto de debajo: Edu, Carlos, Maicol, yo, Kike, Jaime, Álvaro, Juanma, Javier, Nacho, Miguel Ángel, Beatriz, Sara, Lucia).
  • Ha sido la vez que más tiempo hemos invertido en recorrer los 10 kilómetros, 1h11’56”, todo un paseo.
  • Ha sido la primera vez que hemos cruzado la meta los tres hermanos juntos. (del grupo de la foto, entramos juntos en meta 10).


De los 14 que salimos juntos, solo 3 se habían inscrito, el resto (11) solo salimos a correr por las calles de Madrid sin participar en el circo de Nike. Si no recuerdo mal, la última vez que me inscribí a la carrera fue en 2003, hace 11 años.

Tras llegar a casa me enteré de la noticia de que los 3 primeros clasificados en la San Silvestre popular (Sergio Salinero, Gezaw Bekele y Pablo Villalobos) habían sido descalificados por no llevar (visible) la camiseta-dorsal que la organización da a los participantes.

Los comentarios en foros de atletismo popular no tardaron en hervir. Desde los que simplemente defienden que es una de las normas de la carrera a los que se indignan de la comercialización de un evento deportivo popular como este. Algunos añadían que el propio reglamento de la carrera hace referencia al reglamento de la Federación de Atletismo, que indica que los corredores deben correr con la camiseta de su club (como hicieron esos tres corredores).

Me encantó leer la reacción del 4 clasificado, Santiago de la Fuente,y ganador tras la descalificación de los 3 primeros: “Lo primero que haré, cuando me den el trofeo, es entregárselo a él, porque es amigo mío y me ha ganado con todas las de la ley”; dejando así más en evidencia a la organización de Nike.

Creo que seguiré corriendo y disfrutando con amigos de este evento durante muchos años más sin inscribirme…

(*) En tres años no corrí: uno por lesión y otros dos por estar en Holanda en fin de año.

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